Thursday, April 16, 2009

Say what?

Listening is not easy. One must empty himself/herself of pride to listen without taking over the conversation. It is so hard not to comment, correct, give advice, ''one up" the person's story or go down irrelevant rabbit trails. When I catch myself not listening every once in a while I have to stop, say 'I'm sorry' and go back to their story. Perhaps we want to tell stories and keep the conversation light because the power behind intimate connection is so uncomfortable. The very nature of intimacy is revealing the hidden things about ourselves, our weaknesses and vulnerablities. Our fleshly agenda is to stay safe, not to delve into unknown territory.

A good listener is healing water to the wounded, a parachute for the falling, a warm light in the window for the weary and medicine to the sick. Listening is the glue that holds friendships together and is vital for the fellowship of believers to connect and grow in Christ. Maybe we have to get used to listening to each other before we can hear the voice of God, without our agendas distorting what he is saying to us. Practice makes perfect.

Five Listening Strategies

1. Mainatain eye contact.
2. Ask open ended questions instead of making comments.
3. Show non-verbal cues that you are listening.
4. Don't give advice. Be slow to judge.
5. Express love, caring and concern.

Perhaps it would be easier to listen if we prayed beforehand: Father, in the name of Jesus, open my ears, soften my heart, and close my mouth. Jesus, clear out my need to control and let me be at peace listening and caring about your child. Let me be quick to empathize and encourage. Place the words you want me to speak and patience to wait for your timing to speak those words. Jesus is Lord over my need to dominate, control or manipulate.

Become the balm that heals. Be a friend. Listen.

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